A Breach of Duty

As Governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford is also Constitutionally speaking the chief law enforcement officer of the Palmetto State. By leaving the state, the Governor abrogated his constitutional duties.  Of all the categories of powers afforded the governor by statute, the most sweeping involve crisis management. Historically, the South Carolina legislature has given the governor the authority to manage disasters. In South Carolina the Governor is granted seven emergency powers to deal with a crisis or catastrophe in order "to maintain peace, tranquility, and good order." These powers range from declaring a state of emergency to calling out the National Guard and ordering evacuations in cases of natural disasters. Had an unforeseen act of god or act of terrorism befallen the citizens of South Carolina, the Governor's absence would have impeded a timely and effective response. In short, the Governor has breached his duty and must step down or be impeached.

Tags: Governor Mark Sanford, South Carolina Politics (all tags)



A Breach of Duty

It is not that many decades ago, about 12 if I recall, that South Carolina had a devastating earthquake.  Earthquakes do not give advance warning.  Being unavailable for this rare but devastating threat is unacceptable.

On the other hand, it is possible that someplace on the Governor's staff, keeping lips zipped, is the person who did have the contact information for the event of a real emergency.  It is not that many years since there was the chief of state of a NATO country who would occasionally disappear for a night; someone on his security arrangements knew there was an envelope on his pillow with a telephone number.

by phillies 2009-06-24 03:37PM | 0 recs
Re: A Breach of Duty
Don't cry for me Carolina
The truth is I barely left you
I had a mistress
In Argentina
I broke some promises
But they're no big ones...
by bushsucks 2009-06-24 04:03PM | 0 recs
I dont disagree with wht you say

But I would give the man some slack.... for 2 reasons.

(1) It is a messy personal situation ~ I wish he hadnt done what he did, but I hope he can recover from it.  I like redemption (hey, I live in LaLaLand).

(2) More importantly, the country is weakened for want of good republican leadership; there is no sense in not wishing that the republican party recover from their recent foibles.

by Ravi Verma 2009-06-24 04:45PM | 0 recs
Re: I dont disagree with wht you say

This is the man whose principles forced him to turn down federal money for recovery.  Another example of good republican and religious reich principles.  How about some good Republican principles.  Maybe someone can remember the Republican Party of Eisenhower.

by jcfinley1 2009-06-25 03:29PM | 0 recs
seems like just yesterday

that Republicans were saying Clinton should resign--"It's not the sex, it's the lying!"

by desmoinesdem 2009-06-24 05:05PM | 0 recs
Re: seems like just yesterday

At least Clinton had the good judgment to stay in the Oval Office where he could be, um, reached.

by Steve M 2009-06-24 07:15PM | 0 recs
Re: A Breach of Duty

Thats a huge reach and would never hold up. By that logic any governor woudl be required to account for his or her whereabouts every moment of the day....silly argument

by BuckeyeBlogger 2009-06-24 05:29PM | 0 recs
Re: A Breach of Duty
If you'd been following this story obsessively you wouldn't see it as too much of a reach.  One of the things that was mentioned right from the start is that SC has procedures for temporarily passing executive authority but no clear protocol for when the Governor neglects to formally do so.  Sanford neglected to formally do so.
But more to the point, Governors and the President and many local government executives in fact are required to account for their whereabouts every moment of the day, although mostly they have other people to do the accounting for them.  
However, I will grant that Charles's argument should come with the proviso that even after a Legislative session fraught with division over the Governor's foolishness and grandstanding, the Republican state legislators will still put partisanship over the honor and well being of the people of South Carolina to make impeachment an unobtainable goal.
by Endymion 2009-06-24 06:30PM | 0 recs
Re: A Breach of Duty

Not so, Buckeye... There is a huge difference between day to day  governance and Sanford's foreign trip. The Governor of any state is like the President- essentially on the job 24/7.

If Sanford's staff truly didn't know where he was, it was due to his purposeful deceit.

As an Idahoan, I feel sorry for the citizens of S. Carolina. I know how it feels to be betrayed by one of your elected officials. Even though I never voted for Larry Craig and loathed his policies, he made all of us here look like asshats.

Sanford had better learn from Craig's idiocy if he wants to ever spend any time in his state again.  The best thing for him to do is resign the Governorship immediately and get out of public life for good. Craig is still despised here for his refusal to leave office.

by banjomike 2009-06-25 01:53AM | 0 recs
Disagree with the argument here

I disagree with the logic. It is a specious argument.

Several governors travel, many times, out of reach. If he were gone for months on end, your argument would hold weight.

However, he was out of touch - desperately trying to have a private life - for only a fairly brief amount of time.

I believe the private lives of our public servants, are their own.

I do however, find it intensely ironic that the effort to shut down Craigslist , certain parts of it - which dealt with casual encounters  -  was spearheaded by a prosecuting attorney from Sanford's administration.

In the end, as Obama clearly delineated during his 08 campaign in both regard to his own family (when the 24 hour news cycle attempted to suck into its grip a clip from his children) and also his opposition (in re: Bristol Palin's unwanted teen pregnancy and its reflection upon Sarah Palin) I believe it is the expression of our current leadership to afford our public servants some measure of private life.

And seriously, what else is new about a middle aged man seeking  refuge elsewhere? Your testosterone level drops, and you find yourself beating a hooker in some hotel room somewhere before you realize you're just used jet trash and nobody's ever going to answer your craigslist ads.

Fact of life.

by Trey Rentz 2009-06-25 02:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Disagree with the argument here

In most states, when a governor leaves the state the lt. gov becomes the acting governor.

In SC, that's not the case. He remains the chief law officer wherever he goes. He chose not just to leave the country but to misinform his staff on his whereabouts.

by Charles Lemos 2009-06-25 07:19PM | 0 recs
Re: A Breach of Duty

Mark Sanford clearly supports impeachment for offenses committed by public officials.  As a member of Congress in 1998, he voted to impeach Bill Clinton.  

by jolene 2009-06-25 03:52AM | 0 recs
A republic is not a military organization

There is no chain of command.  The title of "Commander in Chief" that the president bears does not mean either that he is some sort of generalissimo, or that the rest of us, or even officers of any of our governments can only act under his orders, or are his subordinates in any sense.

Practically speaking, even insofar as military and emergency response personnel do work for the president or some governor, usually under considerably less than military discipline, they do not need specific direction from this person before they can act to respond to an emergency.  We won our first and by far our most difficult war, the Revolutionary War, without any chief executive of any kind at any sort of helm.  We could manage as well, in war or natural disaster, if every governor and the president were to all to run off to Argentina simultaneously and permanently.

Of course there is a tendency to pretend that we are all soldiers in some sort of permanently armed camp instead of free citizens of a democratic republic, that the president is our Commander-in-Chief who must receive our unquestioned obediance lest we all be killed in our beds by al Qaeda, fire, or flood.  But I thought that our side was against that tendency.  Let's not use this profoundly erroneous view of the form and function of government just to score some cheap points off the other side.  The governor wasn't AWOL because civilians can't go AWOL -- period, end of story.

by gtomkins 2009-06-25 08:35AM | 0 recs
Re: A Breach of Duty

A governor is not a civilian...he/she is a public servant with all rights/privlages/and responsabilities.  Including being available 24/7.

Hey, I have Pawlenty as my asshat Governor and he likes being a tin-god.  That means that if he jaunts off to Brazil for a tranny-hooker fling and Canada invades in the mean time, he is RESPONSABLE to make decisions and DO HIS JOB, even if the state mechanisms are already in gear to do the job anyhow.

And Governors ARE NEEDED specifically to declare emergencies so that state/federal funding can be released to pay for the emergency.  As I understand it, SC is this way, so if a tornado had run through Charleston while he was off "having a private life" then the state would have been beauraucratically (sp?) paralyzed until they could dig him up and get his signature and ok.  One missing/obstinant Governor can really FUBAR a situation in a state.

You want a private life...don't go into politics.  You get in and want a private life?  Resign immediately.  I have seen it done only days after a election, and yes, it pisses voters off, but that is better than this dog-and-pony show.

by Hammer1001 2009-06-25 12:54PM | 0 recs
Sanford needs to resign.

Governor Sanford has flunked the IQ test for all elected officials. He abrogated his duties as a sworn government official, misappropriated tax-payer funds, took a state law enforcement vehicle for his personal use, lied to his staff and state legislators, and abandoned his own children on Father's Day weekend. Someone that stupid shouldn't be allowed to run a city, much less an entire state.

by JohnRJ09 2009-06-25 01:38PM | 0 recs
Re: A Breach of Duty

Why is he still in his office anyway? If he feels he's not capable of running a state then he'd better step down so that he'll have all his time going somewhere else's territory.

by jasonone 2009-06-26 12:35AM | 0 recs


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